Nifty digital workarounds do away with brushes and ink

Designer Nicolette Yip of e-commerce platform The Salvages says the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way she works.
Designer Nicolette Yip of e-commerce platform The Salvages says the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way she works.PHOTO: NICOLETTE YIP

A fashion designer whose T-shirts and fashionwear for e-commerce platform The Salvages have been sell-out successes, Nicolette Yip believes that the lasting lessons from the coronavirus pandemic are more important than the short-term pain.

"Fragmentation, social distancing and isolation have allowed me to focus and concentrate on my craft," says Yip, 28, who joined the e-commerce platform in 2016, when she was tasked to design the logo for The Salvages.

She next started designing small-batch T-shirts, which became runaway successes. Today, one of her mohair sweaters on the website retails for $490.

The Salvages was established in 2016 as a pet project by her business partner Earn Chen, who is in his 40s, as an editorial and fashion archive e-commerce website.

Today, it is a full-fledged local fashion label and is best known for its trendy Manifesto sneakers, an asymmetrical handcrafted leather accessory with Vibram outsoles inspired by the Deconstructivism movement.

Yip and Chen worked with an independent shoe designer in 2018, encapsulating Salvages' philosophy of working with good craftsmen and good materials to make good products.

"That's why it's branded as the 'Manifesto'," quips Yip, adding that she is using the circuit breaker period to further add to the platform's repertoire.

She is designing a new capsule line of activewear, which includes trendy shorts and breezy tops, to be released this year.

She says: "I have been using this time to reflect on what is truly essential to myself as a person, an artist and a businesswoman. Fortunately, I am able to circumvent problems arising from not being able to buy art materials by using technology such as Procreate on my Apple iPad Pro for my drawings," she adds.


"Covid-19 crisis has essentially changed the way I work and create by making me adapt and collaborate in ways I had never been able to before."

She says one example is how it has changed the way she interacts with manufacturers. "Instead of travelling overseas for a physical meeting, I've had to adapt by relying solely on technology to communicate my ideas.

"The crisis has also changed how people approach photo shoots in a time of social distancing. Instead of being physically in the same space, the industry is calling for self-portraits or using video calls as an alternative to taking photos."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2020, with the headline 'Nifty digital workarounds do away with brushes and ink'. Print Edition | Subscribe